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Challenge #01178-C083: Know Your Shit

Much like the most-well-known example of dragon blood, all manner of bodily fluids of various magical creatures are themselves a potent source of mana, quintessence, or other such magical powers, and thus are much sought-after by those inclined toward practicing arcane experimentations. Troll sweat, unicorn spit, mermaid tears, fairy urine... really, it's both fascinating and slightly disgusting what bizarre things wizards and alchemists are willing to buy from those who are willing to sell... -- Anon Guest

Ekumar was a Filth Dealer. That's what they called her, but she much rather thought of herself as something of an entrepreneur. There was nothing so disgusting, once emitted by one creature, that would not be purchased by another for their own reasons.

It wasn't just selling piss or crap to the tanners.

It was collecting towels at the YMPA as they came off of assorted steaming bodies, sorting them by species, and extracting the perspiration in a complicated process less akin to laundering and more closely related to forensic extraction.

She had a deal with a blacksmith up at Lancre - he who had shoed a unicorn - for the clippings of the unicorn's hooves. Once powdered, it was indistinguishable and just as efficacious as unicorn horn. She was one of the few to employ goblins, who collected everything, to collect the same sort of stuff from other creatures.

No other being on the disc was patient enough to follow around a unicorn with a gazunder. At least... in the beginning.

Harry King was prone to stop her, being in charge of the more abundant human mess within the city, but he never actually did. Ekumar didn't ask why. She didn't let Harry or his employees spot herself or hers. Maybe he felt that there was enough muck to go around. Maybe she was too small time to be a bother.

She had a contract with the Ramkin estates to take the dragon dung away, such as it was. Once a month, and her goblins were very thorough. They were thorough enough and ingenious enough to contrive useful gadgets, too. Bibs that would collect an elderly dragon's acidic dribble. An interesting attachment with silver buckles that would not only catch a unicorn's biological leavings, but also keep them separated for whomever so wished to purchase them.

The alchemists and the wizards loved it. And they especially loved her discounts because she kept her overheads low.

Ekumar got very quietly rich. Rich enough to be obligated to attend one of the many gatherings where the cream of society looked down their noses at each other. And it was there that she finally met Harry King.

She'd been trying to lurk at the party. Not knowing anyone she wanted to officially meet and, being thoroughly Bottom Rung, not in a position to help anyone else socially climb. Ekumar found herself uncomfortably between a potted Aspidestra and the Duke Vimes-Ramkin. With his cigar. She in a rented dress that didn't quite fit and the best that the beauticians could do with her hair and skin at such short notice.

Mister King approached, seemingly to talk to Mister Vimes. Ekumar attempted to blend in with the wallpaper.

"Bloody show, these toffs, eh?" he said, apparently to nobody. "Looks down on thems like us. Think they're so much better when in fact their history is twice as mucky as ours. And with loads more blood and guts."

Ekumar waited for Mister Vimes to say something. But he just elbowed her kindly in the ribs to indicate that it was, indeed, her turn to say something. "I have no doubt that blood turns blue, the more of it is spilled," she allowed. "Or the more people one owns. Or the ability to afford balls."

"Never found out how it's done, me," said Harry. "My blood's still as red as anyone else's. And you got a massive pair of balls despite evidence to the contrary."

Crap. "You never sent any of your muscle against me. Is this my official warning?"

"In front of the filth?" Harry nodded to Mister Vimes, who grinned like a shark. "No. Wanted to congratulate you on spotting an untapped market. Well on your way to the top, you are. And quiet-like, too. I didn't even notice you until it would have caused too much of a stir. Bloody smart idea, selling dragon waste to the wizards and the alchemists."

This sounded too much like, watch your back, missy, to allow her to breathe just yet. "Shall I be wary of unexpected visitors?" she asked. Code for, Are you sending assassins?

King laughed. "Nah. I got more than enough to be comfortable. You can bloody have all the magical crap. Don't need it. My heaps is just fine without some of 'em walking off with 'emselves." He joined her in leaning against the wall. Making certain that Mister Vimes could hear them. "Speaking of magical crap... how th' hell did you manage all of this without any explosions?"

"Lead-lined containers no bigger than a firkin," she said. "Segregated crap, and filed by species." She smiled. "And it's amazing what happens to thieves who try to put any of them out of order."

"Hm," said Harry appreciatively. "Built-in security system. Very clever. I shall watch your advancement with interest." He, too, grinned like a shark. "Show them nobby bastards what for, eh?"

It was certainly unnerving to learn that your biggest potential enemy was secretly cheering for your success.

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